Words By S.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Method: The Latest Company to Promote Rape Culture.

Filed under: Feminism,Popular Culture,Women's Health — S @ 12:04 am

I was e-mailed this disgusting and disturbing video today (by a friend who was absolutely mortified and outraged that such an ad could possibly exist):

After I watched it, I was equally enraged and disgusted.  How dare Method cheapen the instances of sexual assault/harassment/trauma that women face by turning it into a joke to push their agenda.

In no way is sexual violence anything to ever make light of.  And, I continue to feel equally enraged that this is a company that I have supported and given money to – by buying their products.

Never again.

Fuck you, Method, and the misogynist horse you rode in on.

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Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Dina Goldstein’s ‘Fallen Princesses’ Series.

Filed under: Art,Creativity,Feminism,Popular Culture — S @ 6:53 am

Perhaps a little late to the game, I familiarized myself with Dina Goldstein‘s photography series, “Fallen Princesses“, yesterday.  In this series, Dina seeks to show what happens to Disney’s princesses after the “…happily ever after”, by placing them in what she perceives to be real world settings.

I find the series to be quite interesting, and some of the images are quite powerful.

Cinderella

Rapunzel

Snow White

Belle

Aurora (of Sleeping Beauty)

Jasmine

Ariel

Little Red Riding Hood

Princess from Princess & The Pea

Depicted are what Dina considers “…real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.”

While I enjoy the concept of the series, I have a couple problems with it.

1) Not all of the princesses she chose are Disney.  If she were to just say that she chose “fairy tale princesses” for her series, it would have made much more sense.  But, she didn’t.  She specifically said she was focusing on Disney’s representation of the “happily ever after” – in such, she left out some actual Disney princesses in order to include other, non-Disney princesses.

2) Red Riding Hood is not a princess.  As such, I am baffled as to why she is included in this series.

3) While I can understand, and climb on board with some of these depictions, how on earth is Jasmine’s supposed to be “fallen”?

The issues of Red’s obesity and Jasmine’s racial stereotyping have been brought up and flogged to death, so I will not discuss them at length here.  I will, however, touch on them – as they do fall in line with my initial reactions to seeing the photos.

Cinderella, while thought provoking, is a little hard to wrap my head around.  I understand that it is supposed to depict alcoholism, but it is poorly executed.  Placing her in the center of a bar full of old men, looking glum (yet not intoxicated), to me, does not portray alcoholism.  Perhaps if she wanted to portray the instances of self-medicating your woes with alcohol as her issue, rather than alcoholism, it would have been much stronger.  To me, this photo simply makes Cinderella appear to be “fallen” because she is having one drink and is lonely.

In the case of Red, I can understand the outcry – how much more fat shaming do we really need to see go on?  Fat people are aware of the fact that they are fat, there’s no need for the frequent reminders.  But, the issue is depicting her obesity in such a manner.  I understand both sides of the argument: on the one hand, gross overeating is not the only (and hardly the primary) cause of one’s obesity, and to depict it as such is really careless.  On the other hand, depicting overeating is the most accessible and most fixable cause of obesity.  That said, titling the photo “‘Not So Little’ Red Riding Hood” is really juvenile and takes away from the message that the image is trying to convey – particularly when your other photos just uses the character or story names.

In the case of Jasmine, the depiction is also lazy.  Giving her a rifle and sticking her in the middle of a war zone is too easy.  She may as well have strapped explosives to her chest, or stuck her in a nose-diving airplane.  The others attempted to deconstruct the lives of the princesses, and I think that the problem here is that, she’s not deconstructing anything.  She’s playing up a harmful stereotype of a culture that has a lot more going for it than being a sand-filled war zone.  I would also like to reiterate that Jasmine’s depiction of a woman in combat also is not “fallen”.  If anything, it’s the opposite.

I also had a real problem with Belle’s depiction.  Again, I think it is way too easy.  It also strays very far away from the essence of who Belle is.  The whole point to her character is the internal beauty, and how she doesn’t care about superficial qualities.  She grew up modest, and a sudden change to royalty likely wouldn’t mar the essence of who she is.  There were so many other things Goldstein could have done with that character that it’s a shame that she went for the obvious.

Aurora, I don’t understand.  She wakes up upon being kissed by the prince in the end.  Therefore, why is she asleep while he is in a retirement home?  What is that possibly saying about real women’s issues?  Also, how does this depict life after her “happily ever after”?  If anything, this depicts what would happen if her “happily ever after” never occurred.  In the same vain, the princess of Princess & The Pea depicts life if her “happily ever after” never occurred, but does not portray her in any real scenario.

Another issue that I have, with the series as a whole, is that these are the “real issues” that she perceives women’s issues to be.  Of all of them, I find Rapunzel and Snow White to be most striking and saying the most about real women’s issues.  I feel that, in all, the message that she was attempting to get across was a good one, and the idea was fantastic.  But, as far as execution, it was just poor and lazy.

She states that there are two more to be added to the series, let’s hope that she gets to the heart of real women’s issues with those.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Is this What it means to be ‘Sexually Revolutionized’?

Filed under: Feminism,Life,Local Events/Info — S @ 1:31 pm

Imagine, if you will, driving down the road on your way home from the grocery store.  Traffic is vast, but flowing quite nicely.  And then you get to a rather backed up intersection… what’s going on up here? you wonder to yourself.  And then, you see it.

At this particular intersection are two corners filled with scantily clad 14 – 17 year old girls with suckers, raising money for some unknown cause.

Is this what we’ve come to – whoring out our teenagers to raise money for our charities?

Why did feminism even happen if this is allowed to go on?

The girls eagerly ran from car to car with their collection apparatuses  in hand and suckers in mouth.  Miles of legs bared to the world.  It was like watching a nightmare in action.  Part of me wondered if the girls realized just what the situation was that they had gotten into, part of me pitied them, and part of me was enraged.

Then I had to think back to when I first realized my sexuality.  I was at around age 14 and was fond of my short-shorts, much like these girls; however, unlike these girls, I was not quite so fond of the tight shirts.  But, I digress.  There was one particular hot going-into-summer day when I donned my shorts and went to school, only to be cat-called all day by the teenage boys who were also coming into that age.

I was embarrassed!

I thought that I was merely dressing according to the weather, and had no idea that the length of my shorts (which really, were only a few inches above the knee) were articles to be enticed by.

From then on, I wore only long pants, year-round, with capris being the shortest that my pants would ever get.  Until fairly recently, I refused to even wear knee-length skirts or dresses.

I do realize that I am an example of an extreme,  but I think that if these girls were to realize the caliber of what they could be compared to, their reactions wouldn’t be so different.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Sometimes I roll with it, but sometimes I just get plain pissed off.

I was on a crafting/dinner/shopping trip with a friend of mine, when we decided to browse the magazine section. One that caught my eye had the “7 Reasons You Need To Lose Weight” gracing the cover next to an athletic woman boxing in a red dress.

Mockingly, I said to my friend, “and two of the seven will be: your man will love you more, you’ll look great in that hot new outfit!” and so on, and so on, and so on. We laughed, as you do when you see ridiculousness like that being spoon-fed to the masses who will, undoubtedly, catch on that all of those articles are the exact same. Though, there will be the minority who, let’s face it, will buy into that crap.

What we didn’t realize is just how damaging this particular article was. To see if I was correct, we popped it open, found the article and started to read it aloud. The more we read, the angrier we became.

It was downright insulting, and written in such a way that blatantly was attempting to give women complexes. Instead of being able to laugh it off and just “roll with it”, we got so angry that we had to put the magazine down.

The reasons were tainted with explanations like, “Actually, we should say you need to lose weight in order to have a sex life!” and “thinner women look better in their clothes!” The “explanations”, of course, were graced with pre-fabbed statistical data and there were probably “professional” commentaries to back up the notion that “fat people just are too damn lazy even for sex!”

And to them I say a big fat fuck you.

How dare they write things like that and attempt to push it to the masses. They may as well have just said, “you may as well go kill yourself, fatty” and saved the cost of wording and editing. Not only is it insulting, but it’s downright lying.

Thinner women don’t automatically look better in their clothing, it’s a matter of knowing how to dress yourself.

Fat people do have sex, and they have fucking fantastic sex.

I am so sick of fat hatred not only being splashed across the covers of countless magazines, billboards, ads, etc., but I’m appalled and disgusted that they would even write something as ugly and distasteful as that.

And you know what else? Women aren’t the only ones who get fat. Men aren’t the disgusting pigs that these magazines make them out to be. Fucking embrace what the hell you look like, and the only reason you should worry about losing weight is to make yourself happy and for your own health.

And if I could remember what the hell that magazine was called, I would tell you.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Confessions of a Budding Feminist.

Filed under: Bitch magazine,Feminism,Personal realizations — S @ 7:13 am

Allow me to paint a pretty little picture for you: One blistering cold winter day, two female friends decide that they have gone far too long apart from each other, and decide to enjoy each others’ company. The two women talk of life, future prospects, foreign travel, vegetarianism, interior decorating, graduating, work, political matters, and… women’s issues.

One woman says to the other that she has been reading this fantastic feminist magazine that is so completely different from other feminist publications and is so completely well-written and compelling that the other young lady absolutely must read it.

One of these women embraces the feminist culture and is proud to proclaim to the world that, “Yes, world, I AM A FEMINIST!” The other woman, not so much.

The other woman, without realizing it, is a proclaimed feminist waiting to happen. This soon-to-be-realized feminist has all the makings of one. She’s rational, opinionated about the treatment of women in today’s society, has somewhat progressive ideas. She fully embraces and understands the plight of women, historically. She has taken full advantage of the work done for women’s suffrage, having been registered to vote since the day she turned 18. But something in her is apprehensive about embracing all things feminist.

You see, for her, the “feminists” she has known have always been the type to not only embrace the notion that they are victims, products of living in a patriarchy; but also have done nothing but complain about the glass ceiling and have attempted to push their false ideals and agendas onto others. For her, these pseudo-feminists have been angry, militant, professors, friends that can’t seem to take even the simplest joke (hey, sometimes that blonde joke is funny), and, well…downright bitches.

This woman, her experience with today’s feminist has been largely negative. From receiving penalties in grades for not conforming to the deeply flawed ideals of a feminist professor to ridicule for shrugging at a “chauvinistic” remark someone may have said, by a feminist friend. She has read the “SCUM Manifesto” and felt her stomach turn from disgust.

The young lady has not only been shunned by the feminists she knows, but has shunned feminists in return. She is not the type to allow herself be pushed around or to let anyone attempt to shove their idealisms down her throat. She has said (more often than not), “Take your ‘oppressive patriarchal society’ and shove it. I’m not a victim and I refuse to act as though I can’t make it in this society. I’m strong, goddamnit, and you’re not going to change me!”

This girl, this woman, did not realize that in refusing to conform and to succumb and to refuse to act as a victim and her determination to make something of herself, in fact, makes her a feminist. It was not until this conversation with the friend of hers in which she read this amazing feminist magazine, that she realized that she just may be a (gasp!) feminist!

The woman in the pretty little picture, that’s me. The magazine, that’s Bitch.

Bitch magazine has compelling, thought provoking, poignant articles about feminism and how women are portrayed and treated in popular culture. It does not attempt to sway with an agenda, it doesn’t expect the reader to embrace every article, and it certainly has a sense of humour. But, most importantly – it’s written by real women telling their stories.

It’s so good, in fact, that I have started a subscription to it.

I received my very first copy of the magazine yesterday. I arrived home to see it waiting for me on my coffee table, and I eagerly curled up on the couch and devoured as much of it as I could.

Of all the articles written in this issue, I think that one of the best is an opinion article entitled: “This is What a Feminist Should Look Like”. And yes, I am going to reproduce it for you, right here (it’s short, so fear not).

This is What A Feminist Should Look Like

By Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Jessica Valenti of Feministing.com

One of the great things about the blogosphere is that it allows for all kinds of feminist voices to be heard – and that those voices don’t always agree. After all, what fun would feminism be if it was all sisterhood and perpetual consensus? (Er, don’t answer that.)

But as important as discourse is in the online feminist world, sometimes a kerfuffle arises that goes above and beyond. The most recent? Feminist policing – bloggers fighting over what makes an “appropriate” feminist.

Jill Filipovic of Feministe got the ball rolling when she did something that – while pretty par for the course in third-wave circles – set the blogosphere aflame. She admitted to the oh-so-terrible sin of being “one of those feminists:” “Yes, I am a ‘fun feminist.’ I wear high heels and I spend too much money on lip gloss and I get Brazilian bikini waxes and I secretly liked Sex and the City, even though I swore I would never, ever admit that on a feminist blog.”

And the floodgates opened. One blog, Molly Saves the Day, argues that by waxing and wearing heels, Jill was “going along with the patriarchy” and being a crappy feminist role model. All of a sudden, the feminist blogosphere was arguing over what a feminist should look like. And that’s not pretty. But to the credit of feminist bloggers, what started as a feminist-policing series of posts transformed into a real discussion of the feminist aesthetic – namely, the question of whether one exists.

Popular blogger Shakespeare’s Sister noted that while “a woman who makes a conscious decision to wear make-up and high heels and remove body hair specifically to be attractive to men is about as antithetical to my personal aesthetic as it gets…the problem is not that there are women who conform to a cultural expectation of ‘perfect womanhood’ imposed on women, but that a cultural expectation of ‘perfect womanhood’ exists in the first place, rendering other expressions of womanhood ‘less than’. ”

Amanda Marcotte from Pandagon wrote, “That our society exploits women’s desire to be attractive to the opposite sex is not the fault of the women that are thus exploited… Criticize the standards, sure. More importantly, criticize the power imbalances that make women have to act for men much more than vice versa. But the purity rituals are stupid.”

And at Feministing, we cursed our way through an analysis: “I am so fucking sick and tired of people telling me how to be an appropriate feminist – or what a feminist looks like. I suppose that all of my feminist work over the past ten years is shit because I shave my underarms?”

Some feminists go for “feminist trappings.” Some don’t. But isn’t the whole point that women should be able to decide for ourselves what our appearance means to our feminism – and if it means anything at all? When we start trying to enforce a strict code of conduct – especially one that includes a dress code! – for “real” feminists, we’re in serious trouble.

As with every bit of literature and information received, take it with a grain of salt. That said, this is one hell of a poignant article, particularly for a woman grappling with her inner-feminist. Though, on some level, everyone knows that it matters fuck all what you look like when it comes to embracing an ideal or life within a sub-culture, but to have the validation and the personal testimonials of, “hey, I’m a feminist and I’m not afraid to embrace my womanhood and looks. And yes, I like to be pampered and look pretty. Got a problem with that?” means a lot, particularly in a forum such as Bitch.

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